UN report on Congo genocide could be game-changer
Guest blogger Lauren Seay says that the leaked UN report on the possible Congo genocide, which implicates the Rwandan government, brings crucial facts to light that could bring justice to the region.
"...no report could adequately describe the horrors experienced by civilian populations in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Every individual has at least one story to tell of suffering and loss. In some cases, victims have turned perpetrators, and perpetrators have in turn been victims of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in a cycle of violence that continues to this day."Skip to next paragraph
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It's been several months since I first heard that the long-awaited mapping report of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights contained some serious language about the role of Rwandan troops in committing human rights abuses in Zaire/DRC. The report was finished more than a year ago, but has yet to be officially released. However, the report was leaked to Le Monde, which reported on it last week, and the report quickly spread in the universe of people who closely follow the region.
As Jason Stearns notes, the leaking of the report almost certainly happened in order to ensure that the word "genocide" got out lest someone scrub it from the final version. It happened in late August, when half the UN is on vacation, and just before the final version was supposed to be released.
I have seen the draft report. It is long and it is damning. Those who have followed the region will not find much about which we didn't already know; it wasn't exactly a secret that the RPA forces supporting Laurent Kabila's campaign to take over the territory in 1996-97 were responsible for serious human rights violations. The report deals with many more issues than just those involving Rwanda, however. Just about every armed group that operated in the DRC since 1993 committed war crimes and/or crimes against humanity, and a large number of them are discussed in the draft. It's horrifying. A few excerpts:
- "All parties to the conflict in the DRC recruited and used CAAFAG. Between 1993 and 2003, these and other children were subjected to indescribable violence, including murder, rape, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, forced displacements and the destruction of their villages, and were deprived of all their rights. This situation continues to this day." (Paragraph 719)
- "In November 1999, elements of the ANC/APR buried alive 15 women from the villages of Bulinzi, Ilinda, Mungombe and Ngando, near to the town centre of Mwenga, 135 kilometres to the south-west of Bukavu. Before being buried alive in the town centre in Mwenga, the victims were tortured and raped, some with sticks, and subjected to other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments..." (Paragraph 352)
- "Around 27 August 1998, civilians and members of the popular defence groups burned several people alive in the neighbourhoods of Vundamanenga, Kimbiolongo and Ndjili Brasserie in the village of Mbuku, in the municipality of Mont-Ngafula. Several infiltrators, exhausted, were arrested, burned alive and then buried in the forest by residents of these neighbourhoods." (Paragraph 313)